Joshua Cohen (writer)

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Joshua Cohen
Joshua Cohen BBF 2010 Shankbone.jpg
Born (1980-09-06) September 6, 1980 (age 41)
Somers Point, New Jersey
OccupationNovelist, story writer
GenreJewish, Literature, Speculative Fiction

Joshua Aaron Cohen (born September 6, 1980) is an American novelist and story writer, best known for his works Witz (2010), Book of Numbers (2015), and Moving Kings (2017).


Cohen grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, spent his summers in Cape May, New Jersey and went to school at Trocki Hebrew Academy before transferring to Mainland Regional High School.[1] He currently lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He reads both German and Hebrew and has translated works in both languages into English.[2]

Work and career[edit]

He attended the Manhattan School of Music and studied composition. Cohen does not have an MFA, and has expressed disdain for the degree. In 2017, Granta Magazine named him to its decennial list of the Best Young American Writers.[3] Cohen lived in various cities in Eastern Europe between 2001 and 2006, working as a journalist.

Cohen's works have received acclaim. Witz was named a Best Book of 2010 by The Village Voice. Four New Messages was named a Best Book of 2012 by The New Yorker.[4] Book of Numbers was named a Best Book of 2015 by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and New York Magazine. Moving Kings was named a Best Book of 2017 by New York Magazine and Bookforum. Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction was named a Best Book of 2018 by Wired.

In an interview conducted by Cohen for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Harold Bloom said, "Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West, Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth, and quite possibly your Book of Numbers are the four best books by Jewish writers in America. Your Moving Kings is a strong and rather hurtful book, but that helps validate it. Book of Numbers, however, is shatteringly powerful. I cannot think of anything by anyone in your generation that is so frighteningly relevant and composed with such continuous eloquence. There are moments in it that seem to transcend our impasse."[5]

His essays have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, The Jewish Daily Forward, Nextbook, Tablet Magazine, Triple Canopy (online magazine), Denver Quarterly, The Believer, The New York Observer, The London Review of Books, N+1 online, Guernica Magazine, and elsewhere.

Cohen was the New Books critic for Harper's.

In 2015, Cohen wrote PCKWCK (2015),[6] the world's first live-written novel.

Cohen was involved with writing the memoir of Edward Snowden, Permanent Record. Cohen, in the words of Snowden, "help[ed] to transform my rambling reminiscences and capsule manifestos into a book.” The New York Times writes: "It’s like a recursive loop of life imitating art imitating life; in Cohen’s “Book of Numbers,” published in 2015, a novelist named Joshua Cohen is hired to ghostwrite the autobiography of a mysterious tech billionaire … whose search-engine company happens to be sharing information with government agencies."[7] The New Republic writes: "Despite Macmillan’s black op to keep the book under wraps, over the past year, New York literary circles have buzzed with the news that novelist (and a contributor to The New Republic) Joshua Cohen had signed on as the famed whistle-blower’s literary interlocutor, traveling to Russia over the course of eight months to help Snowden, now 36, organize and improve his narrative."[8]



  • Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto (2007)
  • A Heaven of Others (2008)
  • Witz (2010)
  • Book of Numbers (2015)
  • Moving Kings (2017)
  • The Netanyahus (2021)


  • The Quorum (2005)[9]
  • Aleph-Bet: An Alphabet for the Perplexed (2007)
  • Bridge & Tunnel (& Tunnel & Bridge) (2010)
  • Four New Messages (2012)
  • ATTENTION: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction (non-fiction, 2018)
  • He: Shorter Writings of Franz Kafka (as editor, 2020)


Date Title Publication Collected in Ref.
Feb 1
Imaginary Appreciations of Myself as Hebrew Poet Guernica Magazine - [10]
Emission The Paris Review 196 Four New Messages [11]
Cafédämmerung (or Allen in Prague, King of May Day, 1965) The White Review 2 - [12]
2012 McDonald's Triple Canopy 16 Four New Messages [13]
The College Borough Harper's (Jul 2012) Four New Messages [14]
Jul 1
Sent Bomb Magazine 120 Four New Messages [15]
Dec 7
Fat Tablet - [16]
Mar 3
A Cinderella Story with an Immigrant Twist The New Yorker - [17]
Apr 25
Uri Granta 139 - [18]
May 3
Mall Camp, Seasons 1 & 2 Granta 143 - [19]


  1. ^ DeAngelis, Martin. "Former Cape May resident receives glowing reviews for 800+ page book, Witz", The Press of Atlantic City, July 30, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2018. "Joshua Cohen sits in front of his house in Cape May. Cohen, who grew up in Linwood and spent lots of summers in Cape May, has written a new novel, Witz.... Not bad bookish company for a kid who grew up in Linwood and Cape May, went to the old Trocki Hebrew Academy in Margate and then to Mainland Regional High School, and who worked some summers at his uncle's docks across the bay from Cape May - when he wasn't being a slot cashier at a few Atlantic City casinos or a semi-professional guitar player at gigs around Ocean City, Ventnor and more local spots."
  2. ^ Alter, Alexandra (12 June 2015). "Nothing to Hide and Nowhere to Hide It in Joshua Cohen's Internet Novel". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Best of Young American Novelists 3". Granta (139). Spring 2017.
  4. ^ Wood, James (December 17, 2012). "Books of the Year". The New Yorker.
  5. ^ Cohen, Joshua (August 16, 2018). "Stories as Prayer: A Conversation Between Joshua Cohen and Harold Bloom". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Joshua Cohen wrote a novel with the Internet reading over his shoulder". The Daily Dot. 18 October 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  7. ^ Szalai, Jennifer (13 September 2019). "In Edward Snowden's New Memoir, the Disclosures This Time Are Personal". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  8. ^ Weinstein, Adam (17 September 2019). "Edward Snowden's Novel Makeover". The New Republic. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  9. ^ Elkind, Dan. "The Wrong Heaven: Critic Joshua Cohen on His New Novel". The Forward. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  10. ^ Cohen, Joshua (1 February 2011). "Imaginary Appreciations of Myself as Hebrew Poet". Guernica. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  11. ^ Cohen, Joshua (2011). "Emission". The Paris Review. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  12. ^ Cohen, Joshua (July 2011). "Cafédämmerung (or Allen in Prague, King of May Day, 1965)". The White Review. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  13. ^ Cohen, Joshua. "McDonald's". Triple Canopy. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  14. ^ Cohen, Joshua (1 July 2012). "The College Borough". Harper's Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  15. ^ Cohen, Joshua. "Excerpt from Sent". Bomb Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  16. ^ Cohen, Joshua (7 December 2012). "Fat". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  17. ^ Cohen, Joshua. "A Cinderella Story with an Immigrant Twist". The New Yorker. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  18. ^ Cohen, Joshua (25 April 2017). "Uri". Granta. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  19. ^ Cohen, Joshua (3 May 2018). "Mall Camp, Seasons 1 & 2". Granta. Retrieved 12 September 2020.

External links[edit]